Pistone made the rest of the Pro Cup Series, both rookies and veterans alike, sit up and take notice on Saturday night as the Hooters Pro Cup Series opened their 2005 season at USA International Speedway in Lakeland, Florida.
Pistone shocked everyone by grabbing the pole for the event, beating the likes of Mike Garvey, Shane Huffman and defending Pro Cup Series champion Clay Rogers, in just his first career Pro Cup race, and the first race for FastTime Motorsports. Pistone then proceeded to lead the race’s first 13 laps before falling back into the top-five and riding.
“I think I shocked a lot of people by winning the pole,” said Pistone. “I think I also built a lot of confidence in people by showing the patience to do that. I knew deep down that I could do it and the team could do it, but I don’t think anyone else thought I could because a lot of people have never seen me race. It turned some eyes on me, so that is always a good ting. And it was great because everyone in the pits was very supportive of it and a lot of people came and congratulated me.”
The first 30 laps weren’t completely uneventful for the rookie, however. Pistone lost the lead on lap 14 after having transmission problems off of one of the first restarts.
“The car just popped out of gear off that early restart, which is why we lost the lead. Thankfully, I was able to turn the car down and didn’t get run over while I got the car back into gear. But it kept popping out of gear, so for about 20 laps there, I was driving with one hand while holding the gear shift until we could come in and fix it. We finally came in during one of the cautions and put a bungee cord on it, but that meant we had to stay in fourth gear the rest of the night.”
Despite having to restart in fourth gear all night, Pistone was able to claw his way from the back of the pack all the way back up to third, where he found himself running with about 30 laps to go. That is when a few more problems took their toll on the rookie.
“I was coming up through the field and was having some problems with a few of the lapped cars. One of them did a four-wheel slide while I was trying to pass them and squeezed me into the outside wall coming off of turn two. While I was trying to make those positions up that I had lost, I was getting a little impatient and got into the back of another lapped car and the officials put me at the back of the field. It was my own fault. It was just brain fade on my part.”
Pistone’s problems still weren’t over. While again charging up through the field, Pistone’s car suffered a cut right-front tire, likely a result of the earlier contact with the wall. That brought Pistone to pit road and put him a lap down. He got back out and made up a couple of more spots before eventually coming home 14th.
“I’m disappointed because we had the Rookie of the Race award covered,” added Pistone. “We had one of the best cars there for sure, but there were just a few too many problems we couldn’t overcome. Everyone at the track knew we had a top-five car and to come home 14th… that is what I’m kicking myself in the butt for.
“I think people took notice of us and that is great. I think we can do this all year long with the help of crew chief David Pletcher and the great crew we have. It was a great showing for our new, in-house engine program as well.”
And like all rookies, it was a great learning experience.
“It was a good learning weekend, though, and I learned a lot about these cars. I learned what not to do again. The race is never over until it is over. If I had to grade our performance, I’d say from everything up until about 30 laps to go, I‘d give myself an A. Those last 30 laps… I’d give myself a D. I just got a little frustrated from getting pinched into the wall by a lapped car. Thankfully, though, that is stuff I’ll learn from.”
Pistone and the FastTimes Motorsports team will return to action on March 12th at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Valdosta, GA, for a 250-lap showdown.
For more information on Chase Pistone, please contact Jeremy Troiano at (704) 726-6849 or checkout the all-new ChasePistone.com.